A Thousand and One (2023)

97% – Critics
84% – Audience

A Thousand and One Storyline

Unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps her six-year-old son Terry from the foster care system. Holding onto their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.—Focus Features

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A Thousand and One Movie Reviews

Teyana Taylor dominates the screen

It’s a drama about what makes a family set in New York City, mostly Harlem, between 1994 and 2005. It follows a high-energy but emotionally-damaged young African American woman who tries to create a family in compensation for the one she never had.

In 1994, Inez (Teyana Taylor) has just been released from a prison term for stealing. She is hot-headed and confrontational and has difficulty maintaining relationships. Inez sees her son on the street, a ward of the state, and in foster care. When Terry (Aaron Kingsley Adetola/Aven Courtney/Josiah Cross) is injured in a fall, Inez goes to the hospital and convinces him to leave with her secretly. She cautions him not to leave their living quarters because the state would seize him again. She arranges fake papers for Terry under a different name.

We follow a deep relationship grow between Inez and Terry. Later Lucky (Will Catlett), Inez’s partner who has just emerged from prison, joins the small family. Lucky and Terry also develop their own relationship, even as Inez and Lucky have a sometimes rocky one. We learn that Terry is brilliant but has a very reserved personality. Counselors at school encourage him to attend a tech school for gifted children, to which Terry reluctantly assents. Finally, before Terry turns 18, multiple events cause chaos for Inez and Terry, with a particular twist at the film’s end.

“A Thousand and One” is a taunt, well-done drama. Teyana Taylor, who is very striking in appearance and dominates the screen any time she is on it, carries the movie. Will Catlett is an excellent Lucky. Aaron Kingsley Adetola is remarkable as the six-year-old Terry. However, I found Aven Courtney and Josiah Cross less impressive as the teenage Terry. Perhaps the problem was the script; for someone as smart a teenager as the film portrayed Terry, he seemed too passive concerning his surroundings and his questions about his early personal history.


Premiering at Sundance, A Thousand and One tells the story of a mother and son, navigating against hardship, the weight of New York City policies, gentrification, and a secret. There’s a feeling of tension throughout the film, waiting for what may happen to Inez and Terry, though it also evokes the edge and breathlessness that comes with living with the weight of poverty and NYC racism. For its beats about NYC history, the film serves reminders of the barriers faced by Black families in Harlem in 1990’s and into 2000’s. If there is a criticism, there are moments when the script could have been tighter, perhaps a bit more time with Terry. Teyona Taylor is a star for carrying so much of the emotional weight across this film, but also William Catlett as Lucky plus Josiah Cross and Aaron Kingsley Adetola as Terry are stellar.

tragedy and triumph to end where you began

This movie demanded a rating and a review from me ; that is how good it is. You to to the movies hoping to see something this well made and feel lucky if you get that result.

I Came out of the theater feeling so glad that I saw it. The first thing you have to say is that this is storytelling at its absolute best.

In the beginning a few scenes seem bit strained but because of the acting and direction the movie just gets better and better and without spoiling anything , you think you know what’s going on but you don’t which makes for a surprising plot twist at the end.

I am not black but this movie feels genuine and authentic in the way ‘ Emily the Criminal ‘ did. This movie would not have been made without ‘ independent funding ‘ : no studio movie this and no big budget or gimmicks, just great acting, story telling , concept and direction. Certain to be picked up by a streaming platform cuz maybe the the content they finance and produce will never come close to the quality of ‘A Thousand and One ‘